European waste workers express solidarity with striking German colleagues

European waste workers express solidarity with striking German colleagues

“We will not standby in silence when the multinational waste companies move in to break the strike,” said Jan Willem Goudriaan EPSU Deputy General Secretary at the meeting of representatives of waste trade unions. The unions adopted a solidarity message to the striking German workers. Many of them are in the municipal waste sector. Some municipalities are now hiring such companies to clean the streets.

The meeting was organised as a follow up to the waste event in June 2005. It evaluated and considered:

- National Developments such as the strike in Germany, strikes in Denmark (R98) and Finland (collective agreement)

- Danish research on the liberalisation of the waste sector and its consequences for working conditions and health and safety. Quality standards in public contracts where not enforced by the public authorities. Similar problems exist in other countries such as Germany. Verdi is working on a black book on examples of serious violations like a waste truck driver having been pressured to work more then 14h and driving himself to death; or a young worker without sufficient training and without safety equipment being crushed in a waste press machine.

- Organising. A lively discussion took place and several unions reported on work being done. Talking with workers, being systematic about it, addressing work place issues and ensuring members are active in the union, are still the main ways.

- Coordination of collective bargaining, the EPSUCOB@ network and the outsourcing checklist. More emphasis on health and safety is needed.

- Services Directives and GATS - the vote in the European Parliament is a step forward but not the end. Waste disposal is in and unions will continue to work to exclude this.

Other issues considered:

- The report of PSIRU on the European waste sector. A number of companies will be targeted for a European Works Council.

- A project on CSR proposed by the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).

- European Waste Strategy. EPSU will continue to work for the hierarchy of waste objectives as defined in its Basic Points position paper. More cooperation with the environmental organisations is to be sought.

Trade union representatives came from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Netherlands, Rumania, Spain, Sweden, UK

- For more information, read the meeting documents